Marina Investment Articles

Marina Investments and Sales Resources and Articles

Larger Marina arises as possibility in Fort Lauderdale beach redevelopment

Larger marina arises as possibility in Fort Lauderdale beach redevelopment

 
Sun Sentinel

June 25, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE—
Boating advocates want the city to spend as much as $16 million on a major expansion of the city's Las Olas Marina, with extra space for megayachts.

But the idea could conflict with current beach redevelopment plans. The proposal calls for excavating one of the city's main beach parking lots to accommodate as many as 91 additional boat slips along the Intercoastal Waterway. Current city plans for a beach makeover, though, envision turning that lot into a waterfront park and promenade with an adjacent parking garage.

Leaders of the marine industry pitched the new idea to city commissioners last week and argue that it may be possible to pursue both ideas. They say an expanded marina would draw more boating business and add to an upscale allure of the beach.

"We have to build for the future and ensure Fort Lauderdale continues to be the first choice in the global yachting market," said Frank Herhold, former head of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. "It all starts with slips, so we need adequate dockage not only for the local boating community but those who visit us."

An expansion would require removing landfill laid 50 years ago on the west side of the barrier island and moving the seawall potentially as far east as Birch Road. According to estimates drawn up for the city marine advisory board, construction could cost as much as $16 million, but a larger marina could bring an extra $3 million a year in rental revenue to the city.

The Las Olas Marina currently has space for 60 boats — it's the largest part of city-owned marine facilities that also include docks downtown and at the Cooley's Landing park. An expansion could include room for up to an additional 14 megayachts, according to proponents.

City commissioners are reacting cautiously, but have agreed to assign consultants working on the current beach redevelopment plans to investigate further.

The commissioners were concerned about how they would deal with the growing parking crunch on the beach and whether environmental protection issues from manatees to seagrass could arise. They also questioned if the construction estimates were accurate and where they would find the money to pay for the expansion.

Still, the commissioners said they understand why they may want to enlarge the marina.

The marine business is a major part of the South Florida economy, and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show draws visitors from around the world each fall. But maritime activists worry the industry will be threatened if the real estate boom re-starts. Builders would eye boatyards and marinas as sites for possible redevelopment just as they did a decade ago.

"We are the marine capital of the world, and we should be thinking that way," Commissioner Romney Rogers said.

The beach redevelopment plans — minus the marina — have been rapidly advancing.

The city laid the groundwork in February for a major spending spree to improve the beach. At a cost of as much as $63 million, they plan to create a bolder beach entrance, address parking problems, build parks and other amenities and help renovate theInternational Swimming Hall of Fame.

The city is under pressure to move quickly.

Fort Lauderdale and the county designated the beach as blighted in 1989, a decision that allowed the city to take all city and county property tax revenue paid by businesses and residents in the area and spend it on beach improvement work. The deal ends in eight years, and the $63 million must be spent.

The Intracoastal parking lot, located at Las Olas Boulevard and Birch Road, factors into the city plans.

The city has wanted to build a park and promenade there. The park is part of an effort to create more public places on the barrier island and open up vistas of the Intracoastal Waterway. The promenade is one of several planned to make the beach more attractive to pedestrians and bicyclists.

A 618-space parking garage could be added eventually, one of three proposed for the beach.

Those plans have received the blessing of both residents and business leaders on the beach. "The promenade and park have been really big deals for the public on beach," Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom warned the marine industry.

Maritime leaders say they only recently realized the possibility.  They pitched a larger marina in 2004 but the Intracoastal lot was tied up in a court battle over the ill-fated Palazzo Las Olas urban village that developers wanted to build there.

The city settled that case in March, and maritime leaders dusted off their idea. They said they had not been involved in workshops to draw up the beach plans.

Bradley Deckelbaum, a developer who leads the city's beach improvement board, said he is willing to see if the plans can be merged.

"It shouldn't have to be an either-or situation," Deckelbaum said. "I'm confident there are ways to satisfy everyone's concerns. The plans are in the early stages so this is the perfect time to incorporate other ideas and decide what works best."

Comments

No comments yet. Be the first to submit a comment.
Leave your comment